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Which Foreign Aid Programs Work? The U.S. Runs A Test — But Won't Talk About It (NPR)

September 14, 2018

By Nurith Aizenman 

From the article: 

It was the summer of 2013 and Daniel Handel had just moved to Rwanda. He was unpacking boxes in his new house, when his wife walked over with her laptop and said, 'You have to listen to this radio story!' The piece she played him was by NPR's Planet Money team, and it profiled a charity that was testing a bold idea: Instead of giving people in poor countries, say, livestock or job training to help improve their standard of living, why not just give them cash and let them decide how best to spend it? 

... 

Supporters of such "cash-benchmarking" exercises are heralding this particular one as a milestone. For years, anti-poverty advocates and researchers have complained that the U.S. government doesn't do enough to make sure its aid programs actually work. "The number and quality of impact evaluations at USAID has risen over time, but it's still really small," says Amanda Glassman, the chief operating officer for the think tank Center for Global Development. Now, she says, USAID's nascent cash-benchmarking experiments suggest the United States – which is one of the world's largest donor countries — could be on a path to greater accountability. 

Read the full article here.

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